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DoD News Briefing: Lt. Gen. G. A. Fisher, Jr., Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Forces Command

Presenters: Lt. Gen. G. A. Fisher, Jr., Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Forces Command
December 18, 1995 11:00 AM EDT

Subject: Mobilization of Army Plans

Monday, December 18, 1995 - 11 a.m.

(Also participating in this briefing were Major General Max Baratz, chief of the Army Reserve and Major General William A. Navas, Jr., director of the Army National Guard.)

Mr. Bacon: Good morning. This morning, we have a special header of briefings today. This is a briefing by Lieutenant General George Fisher, the chief of staff of the Forces Command whose going to walk you through the mobilization of Army Reserves which comprise the core of the Reservists going over to Bosnia or in support of the Bosnia operation. And he's accompanied by a staff of advisers and experts whom he'll introduce. This is all on the record, and he'll be glad to take your questions after making his presentation. General Fisher.

Lt. Gen. Fisher: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. On the, as you know, the 8th of December the President signed the executive order which authorized the call up of selected Reserve personnel including members of the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. And, in fact, some of those Reserve component units will start reporting to mobilization stations today. And so, we thought the timing was good to give you a flavor of the process that we'll use to mobilize and deploy these units and to talk with you a little bit about the kind of training that they're going to get.

Joining me for the presentation this morning are Major General Max Baratz, who's the chief of the Army Reserve and Major General Bill Navas, whose the director of the Army National Guard. Also, Brigadier General Greg Gile who's the director of operations for the Army.

To start with, I've got a short presentation and some charts and then after that, we'll be happy to answer any questions that you have. The charts will be available after the brief in the back of the room.

I'd like to kind of prep my discussion by saying that the Army has been specifically designed and constructed to take advantage of the skills and capabilities of the Reserve components. Any major deployment must draw forces from the Reserve components. We saw this in DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. We saw it in Somalia. We saw it in Haiti, and we'll see it again here on Operation Joint Endeavor. Forces Command in Atlanta has the mission to mobilize and deploy most of the active and the reserve Army units in the United States. And so, we're kind of focused on that process today.

On the 4th of December, Secretary Perry identified to all of you that active and reserve units that had potential for deployment into the operational area in support of the NATO implementation force, and that process has started. If we can go to chart number one, I'd like to start with a summary. As you know, the Presidential call up authorized 3,800 Reservists. We have identified a portion of those so far. And this will show you on the Reserve component side how much we have identified for mobilization so far. You'll see that there is some from the Army Special Operations Command, small numbers of units. The bulk of it is from Forces Command with almost 2,000 soldiers and a few mobilized in Europe. But a total of slightly over 2,000 soldiers so far in about 60 units.

Now with that as a precursor, I'd like to go inside this block right here and talk about the bulk of these soldiers and where they're going and what the process is that they will go through. Next chart, please. This chart shows the flow of active component units. As you can see, it's almost 1,900 soldiers from about 14 installations around the United States, mostly, engineer-intelligence, and logistics type units. And five of those units are already en route-slightly more than 300 soldiers out of Forces Command deployed so far.

Next slide, please. Now, let's go to the Reserve components side. Forty-one units, as you can see, with almost 2,000 soldiers that have been alerted for mobilization. Now all of those units will mobilize at either Fort Dix, New Jersey, or at Fort Benning, Georgia. And I've got the numbers out here on the side. The numbers on the right-hand side are units and numbers of personnel that will go into the operational area in each case. And the number on the left are those units in which personnel will backfill European units.

And so, you can see from the numbers on the right that about 15 units will actually go into the operational area, but the vast bulk of those Reserve component forces will be backfilling units in Europe.

The units that are going into the operational area are predominantly public affairs detachments, military history detachments, and firefighting units and equipment to operate in airfields and other key installations in the area.

Now, let's talk a little bit about the process. You go to the next chart. We identify units as early as we can so that they can get a head start on the training, and then we look at the date that Europe decides they want the unit to show up, and thus, when we have to deploy the unit. And then we back off from that to determine when the mobilization alert is issued. And so, there is training on the front end of that. But once the unit is alerted, then the individuals have about three days to finalize their personal business, and then they'll begin to assemble at home station. There are a number of days here at home station where they go through administrative processes and get ready for movement to the mobilization station. They then move to the mobilization station. The unit arrives here and that process is starting today at Fort Dix and at Fort Benning. And at the mobilization station, all of the final processing takes place. Everything is confirmed to their status. Anything that needs to be done that was not done at home station is completed. And that's where a good portion of individual and unit training takes place.

As you can see, the number of days at the mobilization station varies a little bit because each unit commander has a little bit different analysis of what he wants to try to get done before they leave and so, we accommodate that.

Next chart, please. Let me go into the training activities a little bit. At home station, units are going to do individual and unit training with assistance from the readiness group in the local area. And then when it's time for them to mobilize at the mobilization station, then they will come to either Fort Dix or Fort Benning. And all of these qualifiers will be certified to ensure that everything is done. And then they'll be provided additional training, both individual and unit training, and I've just picked a few of a long list of things that's done to kind of highlight this. All of this is basic individual and basic unit training, not theater - specific training. You'll notice that the theater - specific training occurs in Germany, and I'll talk more about that in a minute.

Having said that, if there is time both at the mobilization station and at home station, units get a headstart on that theater - specific training, both individual and unit. And most of them are making some good headway.

Now, if we go back to individuals, all individuals not part of units go to Fort Benning. That's all services. This is the first time we've ever done that; Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, everybody goes to Fort Benning. And so, an individual that goes to Fort Benning gets the same certification and the same individual training as the units got, and then they deploy.

United States Atlantic Command has a joint team which comes to Fort Benning, and any individuals who are destined for jobs that require joint skills or knowledge about the joint or the NATO process, get that training at Fort Benning from the Atlantic Command team. The first time we've done that. We think that's going to pay off for us.

The point is though, that regardless of whether you are an individual or a unit, your training status is validated before you ever leave the United States. If you're an individual, it's done at Fort Benning. If you're a Reserve component unit, it's done at the mobilization station either Dix or Benning. And if you're an active component unit, it's done at your home station by your next higher chain of command. So, we have a pretty good measure of where everybody stands. Next slide.

Let me talk a little bit about theater - specific training. All individuals and units that are going into the theater of operations will go to the 7th Army Training Center at Hohenfels for the theater - specific training. That's where the theater's specific part is validated. Individuals would get the details of rules of engagement, mine awareness, cold weather, all of those types of things. They'll be training for individual leaders. And the units will then go through special lanes that have been constructed to let them do a patrolling operations and practice the immediate action drills to respond to any situations that might come up.

And, of course, units and individuals have to successfully complete all of that training before they're allowed to deploy into theater. A good bit of that training will already have been partially done either at the MOB station or at home station depending on how much time a unit had in the United States before they deployed. And so, how much time they have to spend at Hohenfels kind of depends on how much they got done ahead of time. But, there's a final validation, and you go through it until you get it right. And Hohenfels has a pretty good system now. They've been training us for a good while.

So at this point, with this system in place, we're pretty confident that the units are going to be well prepared for their mission. We've got a soldier's guide which we can make available to you which we give to all the soldiers who deploy which was produced by Europe which tells them a little bit about the area, the geography, the culture, the people. It tells them a little bit about the conflict and the history of it. It has some language items in there. But, it's a pretty handy precursor for the beginning of getting to know the area.

What I've talked about so far is one key part of this operation, but there's another key part. We are equally committed to the support of families during this deployment. All the chains of command and all the state structures are holding family briefings, activating their special family support programs in order to be sure that the families are properly taken care of. We've learned a number of things through these deployments in recent years, and I'll kind of home in on three of those.

One is information out to families because they handle things a lot better if they know what's going on and they're in the net. And so, we have communications, tools that let us get information out to families about what's going on. Not only briefings, but newsletters and all kinds of ways, phone trees, to communicate. We want to be sure that every family knows what kind of entitlements and assistance they are entitled to and how to get it. If a problem comes up, how do you plug-in in order to get the problem solved. That's the second key piece.

And the third, probably most importantly is communications. We've learned that if you can get the soldier connected back to the family once every couple of weeks, then you really solve a lot of problems. We did this very successfully in Haiti during non-peak times, we used our communications links like at night when the circuits weren't busy to schedule soldiers to talk by telephone with their family for a few minutes. And we did schedule that every night all night long, and getting the ability to talk to your family once a week or once every ten days lets you sort out any problems with the children or finances or anything else that has come up and just gives you a sense of well-being about what's going on on both ends. And so, we're trying hard to put those kind of connectivities in place for this operation also.

You're a key part of this equation in the media, and the information which you provide covers a lot of basics for deploying units and for families. So, we would encourage you to plug into the mobilization stations. That's where a lot of the activity is going on. All of the mobilization stations are particularly sensitive to the fact that we may have some soldiers at the MOB station over Christmas. They all have special programs in place.

At Fort Benning, they run what they call an Operation Holiday to get soldiers to homes for Christmas dinner, to get them to the Blue-Gray Game or to the Atlantic Classic with free tickets so that they've got something profitable to do during that period.

At Fort Dix, they've got an "Adopt a soldier program" which does essentially the same thing -- gets a soldier married up with a family for Christmas activities. It's been very well received in both communities.

So in conclusion, as with all operations, this one's been a total Army team effort -- active, Guard, Reserve, and civilian. We've got a lot of confidence in our units and in the readiness of the troops, and we know they'll be able to handle whatever the country needs them to do.

So with that as a start, I'd like to open it up for whatever questions you might have. Yes, sir.

Q: Lieutenant General, I kind of [inaudible] onto that protective mask thing. That's just SOP, right? I mean, you know they had a lot of problems and worries about chemical warfare in the Gulf. But, you don't have any information of any chemical --

A: No, absolutely not. It's strictly the banana oil test being able to mask, basic soldier, common task training. Yes, sir.

Q: What are the disqualifiers for deployment within the Army Reserve Command? What would make a person not qualified to go or some situation within a family that would make him or her not qualified to go?

A: I'd like to ask General Baratz if he would tackle that one for us here.

Maj. Gen. Baratz: I would have to answer your question that we're in the common sense business. So, if somebody was sick, lame, or disabled, that had come up -- he had walked out of the car, slipped on the ice and broken an leg or an arm -- we would look at that as probably as a disqualifier to send him with a unit and plug somebody else in. If we had a problem even though everybody has a family plan and they could not get the children laid off according to the plan, we always take that in. So, each troop commander makes an on-the-ground assessment and will call up non-deployable's.

I would also point out to you that the non-deployable problem is Army-wide in America's Army. You have the same problems in active units as you do in Reserve units. And the situation is always down on the ground.

Q: Do you have any statistics of what your non-deployers are?

Maj Gen. Baratz: I would tell you only that in DESERT SHIELD and STORM where I ran most of the Reserve mobilizations, that we averaged about four to five percent and that was about the same with the active component.

Q: General Fisher, we've seen that the weather has somewhat been a factor in the speed of the deployment of the active duty troops. To what extent, if any, does that affect deployment of these Reserves? Are they not needed quite as soon? Will they then hold up a little bit and will we see any affect at all?

Lt. Gen. Fisher: Europe has told us not to slow down the deployment of the Reserve component units, to keep that schedule because those units are either going into training at Hohenfels -- and so that can continue -- or they're going into backfill units that are lining up to deploy in Europe. And so, in both cases, it makes sense to keep that flow going for now.

Q: Just to make sure I was clear on this. The relatively small number that are actually going into Bosnia, those 15 units with roughly over 200, tell me what again are they doing?

A: Those are public affairs detachments, military history detachments, and firefighting units and equipment. And you'll find that the units that are going in to backfill Europe now are mostly postal, military police, finance, transportation, logistics, medical, those types of units.

Q: Can you clarify for me? You said something about today that the first people are arriving at Benning and Dix or --

A: That's right. There will kind of be a phased arrival at the mobilization stations. Today, 24 units will start to arrive. That's about 795 soldiers. And then, --

Q: The first ones to have arrived?

A: They are the first FORSCOM units that mobilize at the mobilization stations.

Q: When do you project that the first group would then actually arrive either in Europe or I mean, in Germany, or in Bosnia?

A: Sometime after the 23rd of December.

 

Q: How much after the 23rd of December?

A: Well, they will spread out from then. You know, I would expect some units to move 22nd, 23rd, and then there probably will be some each day after that.

Q: Do you have the number of people who have actually volunteered to come and serve as opposed to those who are involuntarily present to serve us?

A: I don't have that number with me. General Baratz, General Navas, either of you have a number you want to talk about?

Maj. Gen. Navas: I just have a -- no, we don't have a number. We are under presidential call up authority. So, it's basically involuntarily call up. However, our units are being deployed at less than the required strength. For example, most of the bulk of our units will go into Germany. Our military police units, those units are organized about 165 men or person strength and we're deploying under 125. So, within that unit, there's individuals who have volunteered that they would go. Others, like General Baratz said that either they are separating in the next couple of months where there are some issues. We're coming up with that 125. But, we don't have specific units of who volunteered and who didn't at our level.

Q: I'd like to ask General Baratz a question. What if somebody says I don't want to go? Do they have to offer a darn good reason for not -- I mean, I'm against the peace plan on this. I'm not --

Maj. Gen. Baratz: The answer to the question is, my force, as is all of America's Army, and General Navas' are volunteers. They understand their obligations. I can only think in the last five deployments going all the way back to DESERT SHIELD, that I think we had one, maybe two persons, that said we don't want to go. And we right now, having looked at the units as late as 8 a.m. this morning, we certainly don't have that problem.

Maj. Gen. Navas: Can I add to that? I just want to make a specific how -- We had 68,000 mobilized for DESERT STORM in the Army National Guard. Only three non deployed, one had died and the records hade not caught up with it. One was in jail and the other was in the hospital.

Q: Could you just -- I think I know pretty much the answer to this question Just to make sure we're clear on this; the difference between what the role of the Guard and the Reserve is in this operation.

Lt. Gen. Fisher: Europe tells us which units they need, and we look across the components at the capability, and we pick a unit based on its personnel readiness, equipment readiness, training status, and any unit can go anywhere depending on what is asked for and what the need is.

Q: You know, you all will supply a lot of military police, will they not?

A: Most of the military police are backfilling Europe. Military police companies that are forward deploying.

Q: I see. But, any that do go on, I assume, you all would be careful that they will not perform civilian functions in any way, right? Only military police in a sense that they're involved.

A: That's right.

Q: Patrol of the military.

A: Yes, sir.

Q: General, when do you anticipate that everyone who has been alerted or notified that they will be called up will actually have been mobilized? And also, will there be a second phase of this? I mean, a second set of similar numbers of people called up later?

A: I think you see that it will be continuous now. We expect it to stretch out over a couple of months. Europe modifies slightly their list each day. Some units will drop off if they decided they really may not need a couple of additional capabilities will drop on. And so, it changes a little bit each day.

Q: Do you have a second version of this like 270 days from now or sometime?

A: Well, you've got a list on a handout of all the units that have been alerted for mobilization and it adds up to the numbers on the chart. But you can see, that only a few of those started reporting to mobilization stations today. And so, it will stretch out over the next couple of weeks for the list that you have in your hand.

Q: Is this the final number, the 3,000 whatever or will there be a second will there be a rotation in other words that --

A: We don't know of any requirement for a number that exceeds 3,800.

Q: Do you think that we'll reach 3,800 in call up?

A: Well, only about 33 plus of that is Army and we think we'll get pretty close to the 33 plus. Yes, ma'am.

Q: I understand that deployment will continue for several months as new needs are ascertained. But, would it be safe to say that in the next couple of weeks the bulk of the Reserves and Guard will be called up?

A: I think it's fair to say that by the middle of January that the bulk of it will be mobilized. Yes, ma'am?

Q: The 795 that are showing up today, are any of those going to Bosnia or are they all backfill?

A: I'll have to look.

Q: [Inaudible]?

A: There are 6 Army Reserve and 6 National Guard units who do go in theater. So, a total of 12 go in theater. Yes.

Q: They're going to arrive in Germany, I guess. When do you expect them to actually arrive in Bosnia?

A: Well, they'll go into training in Germany and generally, that training will last about five or six days at the training center. And then it's a matter of when they marry up with the unit that they're going to with or support. And so, that stretches out again over time. Yes?

Q: There's not a very large number of special operations soldiers being called up. What are they going to be doing?

A: Well, I think you'll find that most of those on the list are civil affairs type units, some psychological operations units. And operationally, you'll probably have to talk to General Estes about what they're going to be doing when they get there.

Unknown Speaker: That's the last question. That's it. Thank you, sir.

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